What a time to be alive
Suffocation does not immediately lead to death. Delirium comes first. The Golden State Warriors must be feeling some of that right now after last night’s masterclass in stifling defense by the Toronto Raptors. Perhaps the most surprising part of the night was that the Warriors, a team famous for their ability to overcome any challenge and deal with any and all obstacles, had no solution for dealing with the Raptors’ defense.
Few things in sport are more beautiful than perfect defense, and the Raptors were incredibly effective in shutting down the heart of the Warriors offense, namely their three-point shooting and ball movement. They were able to compound the effect of their lockdown defense with terrific offense. Forward Pascal Siakam made his Finals debut with 32 points, good enough for the fifth-most points scored all-time in a Finals debutante’s first game. The Raptors won last night’s game by nine points, but it might as well have been a 20-point margin. The Warriors simply couldn’t get any momentum behind them and didn’t lead in the game after the first quarter.
But the most significant contributors of the night may not have been playing on the court. Instead, they were surrounding it. That’s right: The Toronto fans may have actually played the most important role in disrupting the Warriors. Throughout the game, the crowd roared so loud that made it very difficult for Golden State to communicate, and the crowd’s excitement must have motivated the Raptors.
The enthusiasm stretched across the nation, to hockey-mad cities like Calgary and Edmonton, something that should make the NBA give serious consideration to moving a second franchise into Canada. Remember that the Memphis Grizzlies used to play in Vancouver, but the cultural shift that’s occurred since they left would more than justify the league moving one of the its smallest earners back to a huge market. As for the excitement more basketball could bring, you only need to listen to the crowd singing the Canadian National Anthem last night to realize the benefits of putting another franchise in Canada.